Theatre capital of the world goes dark
The Society of London Theatre this week made the extremely difficult decision to close all West End theatres, effective immediately for the foreseeable future.
The news came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tighter regulations on social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Johnson stated that members of the public should now avoid public places unless essential, the advice specifically stating theatres are to be avoided.
Theatre fans, as well as those working within the theatre industry, are understandably devastated by the news of their livelihoods being temporarily taken away. But the news resembled that of a ticking time bomb, with many people expecting it to happen. After the West End’s cousins on Broadway went dark only four days prior, it was simply a waiting game for London’s theatres to follow suit.
A closure of this magnitude has already put droves of performers and other theatre professionals out of work for at least the next month, with no concrete date in place as to when theatres will be allowed to reopen. While businesses affiliated with theatre, including box offices, are likely to require longer to recover from financial blows resulting from a loss of ticket sales.
Despite the closures however, the theatre community have banded together in an attempt to show solidarity for those losing their jobs. With a number of theatre organisations currently in talks to introduce subscription paid live streams where actors can perform and fans can tune in to watch.
Others are taking to social media to ask for followers to give support to Acting for Others, a charity that works to provide financial and emotional support to theatre workers in times of need. As well as encouraging fans to increase their support for the West End as and when shows resume.
As industries across the country are being struck down as a result of the virus. Many working in theatre have been faced with the realisation that the prospect of what many refer to as “muggle jobs” are probably not an option. This harsh reality has left a number of theatre professionals with little to do but wait until their beloved shows return to the West End.
In the meantime however, many have taken to social media to offer their services to the community in whatever way they can. Offers of help with audition reps, singing, acting and social media dance classes have become increasingly popular over the past few days. While others are offering one to one chats over Skype in an attempt to keep up the morale of fellow performers.
Though many performers are likely to be worried about the weeks ahead with no guarantee of when they can return to their careers, it’s clear the solidarity of the community is not going anywhere in a hurry.